“Let the church say Amen,” the pastor of Greater Evergreen Missionary Baptist Church roared as over 100 congregants rose to their feet to greet first responders.
They were joining March 27 to celebrate the second Blessing of the Badge, an interfaith event aimed at honoring police officers, fire department employees and emergency medical technicians. The 90-minute ceremony included prayers, songs and words from community leaders.
“We’re not here by accident,” said Metropolitan Police Department Capt. Yasenia Yatomi. “This is humbling. Our purpose is to serve this community, and I’m thankful for being allowed to serve. Having done this for over 20 years, I know that community relationships are a paramount for this profession.”
Yatomi was joined by several officers from her area command. North Las Vegas City Council members and community leaders also were present. Attendee Tammie Webb of North Las Vegas said it’s important to remember that first responders are human.
“I think most of us don’t understand what they do and don’t understand how the lives of their children and wives are impacted,” Webb said. “It’s important that we pray for them. Even their families. Pray for everyone. They all suffer something behind what their parents do or spouses do.”
Josh Henriksen of northwest Las Vegas, a regular attendee at the church, said it’s important to combine faith and the roles of first responders.
“Faith is what carries us through difficult times,” he said. “A lot of things involving first responders involves difficult times, so it helps to join the two. Just to see that there’s a lot of first responders who are also people of faith, that helps create a connection to me.”
Councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown, who represents Ward 2 in North Las Vegas, said the ceremony was a testament to unity.
“Seeing all the different faiths come together shows that no matter who you are or what you believe in, we can still come together as one and pray together,” she said. “It’s a beautiful, touching ceremony.”